The Calgary Spartan Race Sprint took place at Wild Rose Motocross Park, which is located right in the heart of Calgary. With a venue located inside the city limits I was a little unsure of the quality of the course that’d I’d be racing on. The Wild Rose Motocross Park is roughly 650 m long and 260 m wide (120,000 m2 or 0.12 km2), which does not provide a whole lot of room to work with to create a 5 km obstacle course.
Well I’m happy to say that despite the lack of space Spartan Race Wester Canada delivered another spectacular race! The course was absolutely loaded with obstacles that were spread out along the entire length of the course. The placement of obstacles truly made this course feel like a race as competitors dashed from obstacle to obstacle.
Bucket Brigade: The Bucket Brigade finally made its debut at the Calgary Sprint this year. However the buckets were extremely light (…and no I’m not just trying sound strong). I’m not sure why the buckets were so light, it was either light dirt or the level at which we had to fill are buckets was lower than normal. Some may argue the real obstacle at the bucket brigade was navigating the slippery mud at the base of the hill, because one miss step and a spilled bucket means you get to do the Bucket Brigade again!
Barbed Wire Crawl: It’s rare that I’d mention a barbed wire crawl to be a highlight, but this one made the cut. What made this obstacle awesome was that it was long, the barbed wire was low, and it was full of hay barrels and steaks that forced racers to crawl. All of these factors combined to make for a fantastic but challenging barbed wire crawl…However there were some particular bad things associated with this obstacle as well, which I will talk about later.
Number of Obstacles: The 5 km course was jam packed with 24 obstacles. Which were well placed throughout the course.
Obstacles: Hurdles, Over Under Thru walls, 5ft wall, Atlas Lift, 6ft wall, 7ft wall, Sandbag Carry, Monkey Bars, Balance Beams, Bucket Brigade, Inverse Wall, Spear Throw, Parallel Bars, 8ft wall, Traverse Walls, Tractor Pull, Slippery Wall, Rolling Mud, Multi Rig, Stairway to Sparta, Barbed Wire, Rope Climb, Vertical Cargo Net, Fire Leap.
Starting Wide: Everyone hates a bottle neck, especially at the beginning of a race. Single track wasn’t encountered on the course until 1km into the race. This allowed for racers to jockey for position and spread out before the single track and resulted in little to no bottle necking.
Visibility: For any spectators out there or racers, who have family and friends who want to watch you race, the Calgary Sprint is perfect for spectators. With the course being confined in such a small area, this provided a great opportunity for spectators to view the majority of the course, albeit sometimes at a distance. This is rare in OCR as the course often takes racers far off into the wilderness beyond the festival area so only a select few obstacles near the finish are visible.
Overall Course Design: This was simply another fantastic course put on by Spartan Race Western Canada. The course was fun, fast, muddy, full of obstacles, and even had some steep (although short) climbs. According to my Nike+ GPS watch the course measured 5 km with a mere 70 m of elevation gain.
Although the course design was fantastic there were a few issues as well.
Rope Climb: If you weren’t one of the first 20 racers to reach the rope climb there was a good chance you were failing this obstacle. Being located at the end of an extremely muddy course made the obstacle near impossible for the majority of the racers to complete. I arrived at the ropes in 16th place, and they already were super slick and difficult to climb. This is unfortunate because climbing ropes are fun and if you aren’t at the front of the pack it’s almost a guaranteed 30 burpee penalty. I wonder if using more traditional ropes instead of the synthetic ropes would help combat this problem.
Barbed Wire Crawl: I just said this obstacle was a highlight so why is it here? The concept of the long, low barbed wire crawl, that preventing any rolling was great. But there were some not so great things about the barbed wire crawl. For one, it seemed like the crawl was placed over a gravel pit. Every movement was complimented by a ton of rocks scratching and cutting your chest, arms, and legs. I can deal with a little pain so that’s not the big issue here. The big problem is that the barbed wire crawl was only about 2 people wide, which created a huge bottle neck in later heats. A large crowd ended up forming at the barbed wire crawl, and the line wasn’t moving fast. Some participants, just said screw it and did 30 burpees because they were tired of waiting.
Venue: This is really knit picky because it’s more so the weather than the venue itself. Being located at a Motocross park meant there’d be lots of dirt, and with rain leading up to the event meant there’d be lots of slick mud, which is fine. But as the day goes on more and more racers tear up the course and again later heats have to battle very slick mud covered ascents and descents. People were sliding/skating all over the place by the end of the day. I know there’s not much you can do about weather, but I felt bad for those who had to tackle the course later in the day.
The Calgary Spartan Race was an absolute blast. Spartan Race Western Canada is on a roll so far in 2016 and has delivered another fantastic course. Full of mud, obstacles, and minor elevation gain made for a blistering fast race that was fast pace, fun, and exciting. The Calgary Spartan Sprint is the perfect example of a race that can be challenging with little elevation gain.
Kristian Wieclawek had a surge of energy in the later sections of the race, allowing him overtake Josh Stryde by 3 seconds and come away with the victory. Luke Ball completed the men’s podium coming in 3rd running on an injured ankle that he hurt earlier on in the race.
Jessica Lemon dominated the Women’s race, securing 1st by over 4 minutes. Alize Richier came in 2nd with Fran Del Castilho, close behind in 3rd.
1st Kristian Wieclawek – 35:35
2nd Josh Stryde – 35:38
3rd Luke Ball – 36:12
1st Jessica Lemon – 49:23
2nd Alize Richier – 53:48
3rd Fran Del Castilho – 54:16
Adam Kuhn lives in Calgary Alberta, where he works as a Geologist in corporate Calgary. Playing high level hockey and football in high school Adam has always loved competitive sports. Upon entering University, sports and exercise fell to the wayside as a life of partying ensued. Spartan Racing has gotten Adam off the couch (and booze) and has revitalized his life. A relatively new face in the OCR scene Adam’s competitive nature is back as he pushes his body to its limits as he competes in the Elite Heats, testing himself against the best of the best. Follow him on Instagram @adamkuhn20 and checkout his personal blog readysweatrun.com for more on his adventures.